How prepared are you for a health and safety incident in your business? All companies across the UK – regardless of size – have a responsibility to ensure they are complying with health and safety legislation. That obligation is designed to help businesses look after their employees and customers. Failing to deliver on health and safety can affect the future of your business.
The HSE has estimated that the annual cost of workplace injury and ill health in the UK is £15 billion.
For businesses, the financial implications of a health and safety breach or incident can be far-reaching. For example, there can be the initial impact from lost productivity and interruption to the business activity. If the HSE investigates and finds a material breach of health and safety law, its investigation costs are billed to the business via Fee For Intervention legislation. The rate charged by HSE is now £154 per hour. And if the business and/or directors are prosecuted in the criminal courts, depending on the type and seriousness of the breach, significant fines can be imposed and individuals can be imprisoned. Combined with the reputational damage that can follow a serious incident, these outcomes can impact the future viability of the business.
So what can be done to protect against such incidents and repercussions?
There are four key steps to remember. These are:
- Identify what your legal obligations are;
- Plan how you’re going to meet those obligations;
- Create and execute a plan; and
- Review what you’re doing on a regular basis. This will ensure that your plan is actually working and continues to be fit for purpose as your business evolves.
It’s crucial that business owners take a proactive approach to health and safety, rather than a reactive one. While it’s impossible to predict if, when and how an incident will occur, it is possible to put measures in place to protect people and the future of your business.